Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Personalized Replacement Voices For Neck Cancer Patients

micmicmic.jpgResearchers from the University of Sheffield, with collaboration of a team from the University of Edinburgh, are experimenting with a voice replacement technique for people who are about to lose their vocal cords. The group partnered with a woman that was going to have her vocal cords removed in a scheduled cancer surgery. Prior to the procedure, her voice was recorded on a computer and then used as a template to create a digitized voice that sounds very much like her. We are 100% for this new technology, as we can’t stand that terrible, scary, artificial voice converter that’s being used nowadays.

The voice was built using around seven minutes of speech from the client, which amounted to 100 sentences. This method is therefore much more practical than established `Voice Banking´ technologies which require two or three hours of recording to build a voice.

The client´s regenerated voice was developed by University of Sheffield Master´s student Zahoor Khan as part of his dissertation, with guidance from research student Sarah Creer, whose doctoral work uses the same technique to improve the voices of people with speech disorders. Their work forms part of the research done within the CAST (Clinical Application of Speech Technology) group, which is a multidisciplinary research group interested in applying speech technology in clinical areas such as assistive technology, speech and language therapy and electronic control systems.

Researchers have since assessed the quality of the recordings by getting listeners to judge the similarity of the simulated voice with the original and by asking Mrs Chapman and her family what they think of the voice. All listeners have thought the regenerated voice sounded very similar to the original.

Researchers in CAST hope to use these personalised synthetic voices in communication aids for people whose speech has become intelligible, speaking for them like a human interpreter.

Bernadette Chapman [the study subject] said: “For many years the Servox machine, or artificial larynx, has been the main means of communication for patients following laryngectomy or for those who have had severe speech impairment. The machine tends to sound very like a dalek and can be very embarrassing to use, especially in public places.”

Press release: Researchers rebuild a voice

Image: soundman1024

(hat tip: The Engineer Online)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »

Commented - Most Popular Articles